Call for Book Chapter Proposals: The Aging/Disability Nexus, 1-December deadline

Abstracts should be 350 words in length, 12 point font, double-spaced and saved in a .doc (not .docx) WORD file. Please also include a 50 word biography with your submission.

Abstracts and bios should be sent via email to co-editors Katie Aubrecht (, Christine Kelly ( and Carla Rice ( Abstracts must be received by December 1, 2015 to be considered.

Critical disability studies has long utilized the concept of ‘temporarily able-bodiedness,’ calling us to recognize the dynamic and fluid boundaries of the category of disability, that can open at any point in the life course, but especially so as one ages. In fact, according to Statistics Canada 1 in 3 Canadians over the age of 65 lives with a disability. According to the World Health Organization (2011) and United Nations (2013), global population aging parallels changes in the types of disability that countries have and can expect. But, disability studies and critical gerontology also call us to recognize the ways in which these statements are not so simple, that aging with a disability is distinct from aging into disability, and that experiences are further complicated by a multitude of other identities, socio-economic factors and geopolitics. Our edited collection seeks to intervene at this complex and urgent intersection.

National and international scholarship that explores the aging/disability nexus is surprisingly limited, but what does exist is innovative and stimulating (Kontos & Martin, 2013; Raymond & Grenier, 2013; Chivers, 2011; Mintz, 2007; Basting, 2005; Burke, 2008; Katz & Marshall, 2004; Silvers, 1999; Wendell, 1999). Despite the high rates of disability among older adults, aging studies has yet to fully engage with insights from disability studies. Instead, scholars rely on dominant medical paradigms, researching ‘co-morbidities’ ‘complex needs’ and other reductive visions of disability. While we are currently in the midst of an exciting cultural turn in age studies (Katz, 2014) and gerontology (Twigg & Martin, 2015) with a focus on embodiment (privileging intersectional analyses, gender and sexuality), disability studies perspectives remain marginal or altogether absent. In disability studies, there has been important, yet limited, engagement with the particularities of aging with a disability. At the same time, disability activism has been perceived as exclusionary to older adults (Jonson & Larsson, 2009).

In short, within the social sciences and humanities, intersectional scholarship that explicitly focuses on the nexus of disability and aging has yet to be collected in a comprehensive way. Works cross fields and disciplines that are not usually in conversation, and can therefore be difficult to locate. There is also a tendency to conflate disability and aging (Chivers, 2011), and subsume one under the other, without giving adequate attention to the tensions that shape how disability and aging are known, lived and experienced.

This collection is driven by the assumption that generative possibilities emerge when aging is situated in a disability politics which, as Eli Clare (2014) reminds us,

… asserts that disability is lodged not in paralysis but rather in the stairs without an accompanying ramp, not in blindness but rather in the lack of Braille. Disability itself does not live in depression or anxiety but rather exists in a whole host of stereotypes, not in dyslexia but in teaching methods unwilling to flex, not in lupus or multiple sclerosis but in the belief that certain bodily conditions are a fate worse than death. (pp. 207-208)

 A “fate worse than death” is not only a metaphor, but a reflection of the ways in which disabled and older people are physically and representationally erased from the present and from our visions of the future. Alison Kafer (2013) writes,

 The task, then, is not so much to refuse the future as to imagine disability and disability futures otherwise, as part of other, alternative temporalities that do not cast disabled people out of time, as the sign of the future of no future. (p.34)


The politics of aging and disability must thus also be situated in time, to attend to the ways in which fears of both disability and old age are rooted in the glorification of a present that is less than glorious, a present that excludes, denies and erases.

This international collection will address an important absence in cultural gerontology and disability studies. It will provide an accessible anthology of works perceived as having potential inform public engagement, education, policy and practice, and will serve as a primer for students, scholars, artists and activists working at the intersections of aging and disability.

We seek abstracts for theoretical, empirical, and pedagogical papers from established and emerging scholars, and new and experienced activist-academics and artists. Proposals that reference community-based research and projects are especially welcome. We use a broad definition of disability that incorporates physical, sensory, learning and intellectual differences, d/Deafness, as well as m/Mad, mental health consumer and psychiatric survivor experiences.

Topics to be explored may include, but are not limited to:

  • Ability expectations for older adults
  • Accessible/livable communities
  • Activist and arts-based methodologies at the intersection of aging and disability
  • Aging and disability from indigenous perspectives
  • Aging and disability in literature, visual and performing arts
  • Aging, disability and art
  • Aging, disability and a poetics of embodiment
  • Aging, disability and the law/ethics
  • Aging, disability and immigration/emigration
  • Aging, disability, race and ethnicity
  • Aging, disability and sexuality
  • Aging, disability and time
  • Aging, disability and social inclusion/isolation
  • Alternative services and supports related to disability or aging
  • Community contributions of disabled older adults
  • Critical disability studies approaches to aging
  • Decolonizing disability and aging
  • Deinstitutionalization and aging
  • Experiences of aging with and into disability
  • Housing and homelessness in the third and fourth age
  • Intergenerationality in disability communities
  • Policy and promising practices concerning disability, aging and care
  • Intersectional analyses of disability and age
  • Mad, psychiatric survivor, and mental health consumer perspectives, experiences and movements
  • Politics of care at the intersections of aging and disability
  • Queering disability and aging
  • Labour force participation of disabled older adults/Retirement and disability
  • The gendered and sexed dimensions of aging and disability
  • The pleasures of aging and disability
  • The promise of cultural gerontology for reimagining disability and aging
  • The role of disabled and older adults in cultural transmission
  • Transgressive approaches to understanding aging and disability

Submissions for consideration for inclusion in the book will undergo a multi-stage process of peer-review, beginning with an initial review by the editors. Contributors will be notified of the decision on their abstract in January, 2016. Acceptance of an abstract does not guarantee inclusion in the book.

The editors plan to apply for funding to host a workshop in Summer 2016. At this workshop, invited contributors will be sponsored to attend in person in order to present draft chapters of their work. This will help us prepare for a submission of the manuscript for review by the publisher in Winter 2017.

About the Editors

 Katie Aubrecht, PhD, is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow, Mount Saint Vincent University, and Research Coordinator at the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging. Katie’s research examines the social and political significance of ‘person-centred’ dementia care paradigms. She has published in Social Identities, Review of Disability Studies, Studies in Social Justice, Seniors Housing & Care, and in 2013 edited a special issue of Health, Culture and Society, “Translating Happiness: Medicine, Culture and Social Progress.”

Christine Kelly, PhD, is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa. Informed by feminist and critical disability scholarship, Christine’s research explores the politics of care and Canadian disability movements. Christine’s book Disability Politics and Care: The Challenge of Direct Funding (UBC Press, fall 2015) explores the theoretical and policy implications of rejecting care, an approach represented by many disability activists. For more information see:

Dr. Carla Rice is Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Guelph. A leader in the field of embodiment studies in Canada, her research explores cultural representations and stories of body and identity. She founded Project Re•Vision, a media lab that works with misrepresented and aggrieved communities to challenge stereotypes. Notable books include Gender and Women’s Studies in Canada: Critical Terrain (2013), and Becoming Women: The Embodied Self in Image Culture (2014).


Basting, A. (2005). Dementia and the performance of self. In C. Sandahl & P. Auslander (Eds.), Bodies in commotion: Disability & performance (202-214). Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

Burke, L. (2008). ‘The country of my disease’: Genes and genealogy in Alzheimer’s life-writing. Journal of Cultural & Literary Disability Studies, 2(1), 63-74.

Chivers, S. (2011). The silvering screen: Old age and disability in cinema. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Clare, E. (2014). Meditations on natural worlds, disabled bodies, and a politics of cure. In S. Iovino & S. Oppermann (Eds.), Material ecocriticism (pp. 204-219). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Jonson, H. & Larsson, A. (2009). The exclusion of older people in disability activism and policies: A case of inadvertent ageism? Journal of Ageing Studies, 23(1), 69–77.

Kafer, A. (2013). Feminist, queer, crip. Bloomington, IN: Indiana.

Katz, S. (2014). What is age studies? Age, Culture, Humanities, 1. Retrieved from

Katz, S. & Marshall, B. (2004). Is the functional ‘normal’? Aging, sexuality and the bio-marking of successful living. History of the Human Sciences, 17(1), 53-75.

Kontos, P. & Martin, W. (2013). Embodiment and dementia: Exploring critical narratives of selfhood, surveillance and dementia care. Dementia, 12(3), 288-302.

Mintz, S. (2007). Unruly bodies: Life Writing by women with disabilities. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.

Raymond, E. & Grenier, A. (2013). Participation in policy discourse: New form of exclusion for seniors with disabilities? Canadian Journal on Aging, 32(2), 117-129.

Silvers, A. (2000). Aging fairly: Feminist and disability perspectives on intergenerational justice. In M. Urban Walker (Ed.), Mother time: Women, aging and ethics (pp. 203-226). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Twigg, J. & Martine, W. (Eds.). (2015). Routledge handbook of cultural gerontology. London: Routledge.

United Nations. (2013). World population ageing 2013. Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division. New York: United Nations.

Wendell, S. (2000). Old women out of control: Some thoughts on aging, ethics and psychosomatic medicine. In Mother time: Women, aging and ethics (pp. 133-150). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

World Health Organization. (2011). Global health and ageing. Retrieved from



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